Which Insect Sprays Are Safe?

Apart from ruining your day with their itchy bites, bugs can spread disease, Lyme’s disease is now thought possibly to be spread from any biting insect, including mosquitoes, mites and biting flies! 1

Commercial insect repellents containing DEET cause very unpleasant side effects in a quarter of the people who use them-skin irritation, numb or burning lips, nausea, headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating. 2
DEET is toxic to wildlife. and is now found in many American waterways.
Air sprays containing pyrethrum are also dangerous, they have caused asthma attacks, burning skin, headache, restlessness, tinnitus, incoordination and anaphylactic shock. There is also a suspected link to cancer. 3
So best not to use either of those then!!! Luckily there is a natural alternative-essential oils, water, vodka and a spray bottle.

Bug spray recipe

Put one tablespoon of vodka, or witch hazel into a spray bottle, add 1/3 cup of distilled , or boiled ,water, then 40 drops of essential oils.
Choose from-
Rose Geranium-ticks.
Lavender-mosquitoes, flies
Pennyroyal-insecticide [don’t use if pregnant or breast feeding]
Lemongrass-fleas ,ticks
Other oils that are effective are Citronella, Clove, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cedar, and Mint. Several can be mixed together.

The oils could also be put in a diffuser to keep insects away. Turning on a  strong fan makes it difficult for mosquitos to land, which is why you less more bites on windy evenings.
This works for humans and pets.

If you are going into a malarial area something stronger is required, products that contained 20 percent picaridin or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus are as effective as DEET, with milder side effects. The picaridin in PMD resembles the natural compound piperine, an essential oil in black pepper. They kept ticks and bugs away for at least 7 hours. 4
So PMD seems less of a health risk than DEET, but it is still made from chemicals, and w do not know the long term effect from putting them on our skin.
So I am going to make my version of this by liquidising black pepper and vodka, leave it to steep for a few days/weeks, and mixing it with lemon eucalyptus oil.
Looking at how the piperine is extracted commercially involved a lot of chemicals, this wont be as strong, but hopefully will still work.
Maybe it will keep these pesky mosquitoes at bay!
I will let you know how successful it was.

References

1 www.lymesdisease.org.au/transmission
2 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-it-true-that-the-deet/
3https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgibin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+6297
4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17067054

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